Friday, January 15, 2010

Be careful in what you believe.

If there was ever a doubt as to the pre-conceived nature of that American Idol program, one need look no further than the latest Internet sensation, General Larry Platt. Somehow (we are supposed to believe) he was allowed through the audition process even though the "rules" prohibit anyone over the age of 28 from being a part of the program. Then he goes and does some ridiculous pantson the ground rant/song and it's the "latest thing."
OK, I get it, you're starved for attention, and since William Hung isn't available, you'll make the most of it by promoting an old guy dancing around. That's TV. Gee, how did he ever get through he screeners? We're so easily entertained.
Big earthquake in Haiti. It's all over the news. And as a result, there are hundreds of charitable organizations who are willing to lend a hand, or so we think. Be careful where you throw your money, folks. Remember the Katrina thing in New Orleans and how a lot of that money found its way into the hands of people who just wanted a big screen TV or a new refrigerator. This isn't any different. Make sure your money is going where it's supposed to go, if you are willing to give it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Haiti hater.

Speaking about the disaster during his program “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Pat Robertson said that when Haiti was still a French colony its leaders “swore a pact to the devil” to get out from “under the heel of the French.”
“They said, ‘we will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal,’” Robertson claimed, as was recorded and sent around by the liberal group Media Matters.
“But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other,” he continued. “That island of Hispaniola is one island. It is cut down the middle on the one side is Haiti the other is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts. Haiti is in desperate poverty.”
First of all, I wasn't aware that "The 700 Club" was still on television. Maybe that's why Robertson saw fit to start flapping his gums over the earthquakes in Haiti? Anything to get your name in the media.
I'm also fond of people who use the phrase "true story" when they're telling you something that is difficult for people to believe. He says "true story" and then claims to know what Satan said. That's interesting. How much fun must it be to be able to make up conversations between people and Satan?
ME: Oh man, I'd love a big hunk of that cheesecake.
SATAN: Well, go ahead - it's right there in front of you.
ME: No. I'll eat the whole thing and feel bad about myself later.
SATAN: Not if you make a deal with me, you won't.
ME: What do you want?
SATAN: You could give me that cat you just adopted.
ME: Umm ... I think I'll have some salt-free pretzels.
Sometimes I think we haven't progressed much as a society over the past thousand or so years. When we start talking about superstitions, curses or other supernatural phenomena we show our ignorance to simple facts. Maybe it's because the facts are so simple that we question them?
MIAMI — For years, geologists had been predicting an earthquake in Haiti - possibly as powerful as magnitude 7.2. The problem was they couldn't say when.
"It could have been the next day, it could have been 10 years, it could have been 100," said Miami geophysicist and earthquake expert Dr. Tim Dixon . "This is not an exact science."
Dr. Amy Wilentz, a professor of politics at the University of California at Irvine and author of "The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier," agrees.
"A lot of the buildings are made of bricks and cement and tin roofs," she said. "It's hard to envision programs like the ones we have in California to reinforce buildings and do earthquake stabilization, much less projects to make new buildings safe. It's hard enough to put up a building at all; the idea of making it perfect is Kafka-esque."
Asked Susan Purcell, director of the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami : "This is the poorest country in the hemisphere; what are they supposed to do and with what resources? Most of them are dirt-poor and living in makeshift houses."
I guess that must have been some deal they made with the devil. Poverty, AIDS, makeshift housing, floods, hurricanes and disease; in exchange for being free of the French.
Sounds like an even swap, eh? Somebody needs to explain that to me. Come to think of it, what in Hell is Robertson talking about?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Malling it.

The Mall.
I used to do a lot of wandering around in malls. Now, not so much. Mostly because I'm not 20 years old and partly because I don't have a lot of money to spend, which is most of what you do at the mall.
I went on Tuesday after work because I had a gift card to spend. Of course, we never spend the gift card - we spend more than the gift card, which is why I think stores like selling them so much. They do research on junk like that.
The first thing to do at the mall is find something to eat. Our local mall has a nice food court, but it wasn't that long ago that malls didn't have food courts. I think you have to be over 40 years old to remember that. Generally, they had a pretzel place or some kind of fast food joint, but now there is an entire wing of the place devoted to food - including a pretzel place and a fast food joint. I ate at the Chinese place.
It's kind of noisy in the food court. That's because there is a new-fangled video music thing called Akoo where you're supposed to text your song selection and they claim to play it "soon." I sat there for a half hour and didn't hear one song or see an artist I recognized. I'm not 20 years old anymore. I'm sure there is some financial incentive to the mall and some kickback to Akoo from the music producers so that they find it profitable to bother us with noise while we're eating.
It has become increasingly difficult to find peace and quiet in public.
This explanation of Akoo was undoubtedly written by a marketing major from a huge expensive university:
Akoo’s patent-pending digital media and marketing platform, m-Venue™, enables partners to offer location-based entertainment to mobile consumers visiting their establishments. For the first time, consumers can use their mobile phones or Internet-connected mobile devices to search, select, and “activate” in-location audio/video content and interactive entertainment. Simultaneously, the m-Venue platform tracks consumers’ usage behaviors and preferences to facilitate more effective mobile-based promotions, loyalty & rewards programs and opt-in targeted marketing campaigns.
Have you ever heard so much crap crammed into one marketing paragraph? "Opt-in targeted marketing campaigns?" I'm guessing that if you're dopey enough to text them your request you'll be hounded by text messages for the rest of your life by their marketing partners. How many text messages that people seem so interested in getting do you suppose are from spam texters or marketers that they have unwittingly given their cell phone number to? Lots, I'm guessing.
Strangely enough, there isn't a store in the mall where one can buy a CD or DVD.
As you can see from the accompanying photo, the mall wasn't very crowded. As you can also see from the photo, our mall has a small train that runs in a circle around the main concourse. I'm not sure why.
As you can also see, my life has taken a dull turn, forcing me to look to the mall as a topic for a blog post. I hope to bring some excitement here soon.

Monday, January 11, 2010


My neighbor's hobby is researching her family tree. Last week, she did some research on my father's family, and she came up with a 1920 census report that showed that my grandfather came to America from Italy in 1896. The house they were living in was at 1109 Wolf Street in south Philadelphia. I took a little trip there today. It's the one with the green awning.
Imagine 9 children (ages 18, 16, 14, 12, 8, 7, 3, 2 and 8 months - yes, they were Catholic) and two adults living in that tiny row home. Dad was 8 months old when the census was taken, so this is the house where he lived when he was born. I don't think it looked like this in 1920. It probably looked more like the ones on the left side of the photo.
My grandfather (also named Anthony) owned a barbershop, but I don't know where it was. Chances are it isn't a barbershop anymore. Two of dad's sisters were buttonhole makers (Makes buttonholes for shoes: Sets button fly of quarter against gauge of machine. Depresses lever which brings down knife to cut buttonhole and stitcher to automatically stitch all around buttonhole) and his oldest brother was a packer, which could mean a lot of things.
I'm not sure what I expected to find by going there, but it was pretty cool to be able to see where he lived. At some point, they moved to W. Ruscomb Street, which is where the 1930 census put them. I'd guess that house was a little bigger. That's a trip for another day.
Dad passed away in 1967 (when I was 9) so I never got to ask him much about his youth. The house on Ruscomb Street is not too far from where Shibe Park was, and I imagine he spent some time going to Phillies and A's games as a kid. Otherwise, all I know is that he joined the Army in 1941 and served in San Francisco during World War 2. My neighbor found his enlistment papers too. I'm not going to do that, just in case you were wondering.
That was my day. In addition to having my teeth cleaned, spending $750 on preventive maintenance for my car, having it washed and doing my spin class. I was kind of busy.